There's no end
to the things you might know, depending how far beyond Zebra you go! {Dr. Seuss}

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fun Fact Friday: 5 Famous Writers Who Also Had Day Jobs!

Lately I’ve noticed in comments around the blogosphere that some are lamenting their day jobs. I’ll hold my tongue as I turn green with envy. Anyway, I thought it’d be encouraging to compile a list of famous writers who held all kinds of jobs before striking it big. Some still kept their jobs even though they could make a living writing. I’ve only listed five because, umm, Fun Fact Friday and five all begin with the same letter. Catchy, right? But back to what I was saying. If you do your own research, you’ll find nearly every famous or successful author needed a day job or two. Think of it this way: perhaps it was their jobs that helped make their writing powerful and rich enough to catch an agent's/publisher’s attention!

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Detective writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (May 22, 1859 – July 7, 1930) wrote short stories while attending medical school. He achieved his degree in 1885 and opened a rather unsuccessful independent practice. While waiting for patients, Doyle continued writing stories and created one of literature’s most recognizable characters, Sherlock Holmes. Throughout his life, he practiced medicine and dabbled in law and politics while continuing writing.
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Pulitzer Prize winning writer Toni Morrison (February 18, 1931) taught English at Howard University, worked as a textbook editor, and raised two children when she wrote her first novel, The Bluest Eye. Though Morrison achieved world-wide success with her novels, she continued teaching until her retirement in 2006. 
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Legal thriller writer John Grisham (February 8, 1955) was a successful lawyer and politician in the 1980s. He used his daily work as inspiration and wrote legal thrillers in his spare time. Grisham retired from law after the success of his second novel, The Firm, but he briefly returned to practice law in 1996. I guess he needed more ideas!?

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Romance writer Nicholas Sparks (December 31, 1965) had several jobs while writing and pursuing publication. He sold pharmaceuticals, worked in real estate, and waited tables. His literary agent discovered The Notebook from her slush pile (Encouragement Alert: You really can make it out of the slush!) and the rest, well, I probably don’t need to tell you what happened next. Just go to the movies and you’ll figure it out! 
Image found here.

Screenwriter Diablo Cody (June 14, 1978) worked as a secretary, copywriter, and stripper while writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogging. After her memoir about stripping was published, her manager encouraged her to write a screenplay. Juno received critical acclaim and an Academy Award later… 

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”  ~E.L. Doctorow

“If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”  ~Toni Morrison

“The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn't behave that way you would never do anything.” ~John Irving

“You may be able to take a break from writing, but you won't be able to take a break from being a writer.” ~Stephen Leigh
Share with me!
What kind of jobs do you have other than writing? When/How do you find time to write? I hope this post is encouraging for you!!!

Happy Friday, blog buddies, and have a fabulous weekend!!!


Eric W. Trant said...

Engineer in semiconductors.

Wanted to be a doctor, but didn't make good enough grades in my undergrad. Pre-med, though, and took a TON of med courses.

Son of a librarian and english teacher.

Programmer in my spare time, have a second company with my brother outside both our day jobs.

Family, daughter, son, one on the way.

What I HATE most is reading a story about a WRITER.

Some of them work. e.g. The Shining, but for the most part, if you're not a literary genius, and if your main character is a WRITER, kill the story, burn it, spread the ashes in the freeway and then have a lobotomy to remove the idea permanently.

Nobody wants to read a story about a freaking writer.

Except Funny Farm. That one was okay.

And Misery.

Okay. Don't write about a writer unless it's interesting.

I'll shut up, now.

- Eric

Creepy Query Girl said...

I'm pretty lucky. I work part time as an english teaching assistant in a french primary school. I have the same vacations and days off as my kids (which, if you know the french school system is ALOT of vacation). But i'm also a full time mom- which I admit, takes the most time away from writing. But I try to get most of my work done when the girls are at school/napping/in bed for the night. Or when they're deep into play mode and I can get away with a few minutes to myself:)

Talli Roland said...

This was great, Laura! So interesting to read. I've been a teacher, PR exec, journalist and spa receptionist, to name a few...

Laura Pauling said...

Great post! I'm at home. This was the first year that all my kids were in school all day. I have a teaching degree - but no one is hiring! I'm still waiting to figure out what life holds and writing in the meanwhile.

Stacy Post said...

I'm a librarian by day. Surrounded by wonderful books, readers and patrons. Not a bad gig for a writer to have!

DL Hammons said...

I'm a Customer Service manager for my company, which includes Planning/Scheduling. :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

By day I'm a super hero. It gives me inspiration to write my characters with super powers. ;)

Loved the underwater restaurant you linked me to. Thanks so much! :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Fantastic! I really loved that!

Being a stay-at-home is hard enough now that I've thrown writing in the mix. LOL

T.J. Carson said...

Wow that was rather inspiring! Ha. I knew about Grisham but not the others! Hmm..

When I'm not writing I'm:
Going to college full-time
Volunteering as a T&F coach
Throwing Discus
Working at a local diner (hostess)
Volunteer promoter of wellness on campus
Volunteer Associate (leadership program)

Then there is homework and blogging in between that. ha.

T. Anne said...

OK let me just say it and get it over with; John Grisham is so hot!!! Shh... don't tell my husband ;) Have a great weekend!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Thanks for sharing this, it really is encouraging. :)

Sandy said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this! I have a day job (college professor) and really struggle to make time for blogging and writing. It's nice to read about people who have made it work.

catwoods said...

Mom of four and wife, writer, court advocate for at risk kids, youth counselor and preschool teacher to name a few of the things that occupy my days.

To make it an even six, Scott Turow (Presumed Innocent) was written on the subway before and after work as an attorney.

It can be done!

SWK said...

Great post. My day job is in book publishing (but the marketing side), so my fiction is written in stolen hours. Gotta admit, I enjoy the day job, too, though it can be hard to squeeze everything else in. Love the blog and look forward to following!

Angela M. said...

I'm an electronics technician in the US Navy. We work long hours, but I squeeze time in sometimes when I'm on watch (if I stand watch at the computer, otherwise I stand armed watches so can't do anything but focus on the job). I write on my lunch break and often when I should be sleeping.

I don't know how I'd squeeze writing in if my husband and five children were living down here right now!

Anna said...

I teaching creative writing and I love it for two reasons. First, it makes my own writing better because it forces me to really understand elements of craft so I can teach them. Second, it gives me a reason to leave the house a few days a week so I don't go insane. My summer vacation is just about to start and I just know I'll turn into a crazed recluse (just like I did last summer). :-)

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Former journalist, mom of five, various other communications jobs through the years, currently volunteer radio host for faith-based radio station, children's author. Right now, with youngest ready for kindergarten in the fall, things are going to change. I'm just not exactly sure what that's going to look like, and how/where writing will fit in. I'm sure it will remain a prominent pursuit one way or another. Dreaming of more time to pursue publication of my memoir and working on a YA novel at the moment, but feeling stuck in the middle place of my life as it is now.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I'm a wife, a mother, and a high school English teacher. As for finding time to write, it's a juggling act! :-)

Shannon said...

Great inspiration stories. Thank you, Laura. It's always great to be reminded that it is possible.

As far as jobs...oh boy. I've been a waitress, bartender, jello-shot girl, receptionist, admin assistant, outside sales rep, recruiter, hr manager, corporate trainer, and a writer. :)

Shelley Sly said...

This post IS encouraging, thanks! I teach by day and... no, I don't even write by night. I seriously have trouble getting writing done on weekdays because work tires me out. I'm usually pretty okay about getting a few hours in on Saturdays and then on Sundays, but that also depends on if I have weekend plans. I'm really not the best example of how to find time to write, haha.

AchingHope said...

I've worked in retail - which as annoying as it is HAS given me some great story moments.

Other than that, I volunteer at one of my church's youth groups, plus I've baby-sat. It's surprising how much you can write while kids are napping and you're in a stranger's home. :P

Loved reading the little author bios. Very nice.

DL Hammons said...

I have an award for you over at my place today. :)

Jen said...

What an awesome post!!

I am a data analyst by day and a writer by night. I try and write at least 1,000 words a day, sometimes I'm successsful sometimes I am not!

I would like to go back to school to become an English teacher though!

Laura Marcella said...

Eric- LOL I know what you mean about reading stories about writers! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Creepy- I don't know the French school system, but I'm going to Google it now! And being a full-time Mom is like having at least twelve hard-core jobs!

Talli- Wow! And now you'll be published next year, YAY!!!

Laura- I know how you feel about the no one if hiring thing, boo. But being a mom is a big-time job!

Stacy- Oooh, you're so lucky! I've been thinking about going back to school for library science...

DL- Nice! That's kind of what I do, make my own schedules and plans...except I don't get paid for it, lol!

Karen- It's like your method actor, except you're a method writer, lol! And you're welcome!

Jennifer- I bet! I remember reading an article once about how being a full-time mom (or dad) incorporates being a medical doctor, teacher, psychologist, chef, housekeeper accountant, and a bunch of other jobs. Man, if only full-time parents got paid like all those other jobs do!!!

T.J.- Yeesh, you're a busy gal! I'm glad you have time for your awesome blog!!!

T.Anne- Lol, you're secret is safe with me! I hope you had a great weekend, too!

Kimberly- You're very welcome and I'm glad you liked it!

Sandy- It is encouraging! In some ways having other jobs might help writers to manage their time better and get more done because they know exactly the moments they must write! There's no time to procrastinate that way, haha.

Cat- Yes, I've heard of writers who take advantage of train and subway rides! I wouldn't be able to do that though :( Reading and writing in transportation makes me nauseous, boo.

SWK- Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! I appreciate the follow, too!

Angela- Wow, that's amazing. I'm glad you're able to find some writing time!

Anna- Yes, I can imagine teaching writing helps your own writing, too. That's really awesome! Enjoy the summer even if you are a "crazed recluse" lol!

Roxane- How do you ever manage to do everything you do? Women like you are so inspirational!

Shannon O- That sure is a juggling act! It all can be done, and it's okay to drop a ball once in a while!

Shannon- You're welcome! I'm glad you found this encouraging. :) Jello shot girl? That sounds fun!

Shelley- Lol, but at least you're stealing moments whenever you can. That's what counts!

AchingHope- I used to work retail. You're right about it being annoying but is great for story ideas!

DL- Thank you so much! *scurrying over to look*

Jen- Wow, that's awesome! Being an English teacher would be nice because you'd know that you'd have long vacations to write!

Natalie said...

This was a fun read Laura. Thanks! I'm a full-time mom of 3 and 1/2. I write when the kids are occupied with other things (mostly when they are at school, napping, and/or watching PBS).

Mark Anthony said...

Great stuff! When people ask me what I do I'm torn between what pays the bills and what is fulfilling. Posts like this are ammunition for the always reliable 'weirdo' response. Thanks!

Laura Marcella said...

Natalie- I admire full-time moms who write (or do any kind of creative thing at home) because it seems that whenever mom is occupied, that's the moment the kids "need" her most, lol!

Mark- Thanks! Tell them both things you do; it doesn't have to be one or the other. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting!